Coronavirus flights: Government reveals why UK will not ban international travel
Coronavirus has officially been named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global pandemic. In a bid to slow the spread of the virus many countries are now implementing travel bans to certain parts of the world. However, the UK government has announced it will not be following this protocol. Instead, it will continue to allow its citizens to fly in and out of the country.
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Joining the Prime Minister at a conference today, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser explained why.
As the UK moves from its “contain” phase into its “delay” phase, Sir Patrick Vallance explained that banning all travel “wasn’t going to make a big difference”.
He said: “Quite early on we looked at the question of stopping flights and the assessment was that if we stop flights directly from China at the beginning, unless you’ve got something like a 95 percent effect or unless you could stop all other routes from china to the UK by 95 percent, the effect on the delay to the epidemic was minimal.
“It was a day or two.
“And more realistically we could get, at best, probably a 50 percent reduction.”
He continued: “This really wasn’t going to make a big difference and I think the evidence has borne that out actually, that you can’t, in the way the world works, you can not stop that unless everybody decided to do it all at once.
“And it’s certainly too late now to be trying to do that.”
The expert also claimed that medical checks for symptoms at airports are not enough to stop the virus infiltrating countries around the globe.
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In recent weeks numerous airports have been testing for the virus with temperature gauges, but this is said to be useless.
Sir Vallance continued: “The other thing is the screening measures on airports sort of sounded sensible but we know that the first case in the US went through the screening measure.
“The first person wasn’t detected and then popped up, so these things sound great but don’t always work.”
The news came as US President Donald Trump announced that he would be banning travel between the US and Europe, with the exception of the UK.
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The US President claimed US coronavirus clusters were “seeded” by European travellers and blamed the European Union for not acting quickly enough.
He described the move as “strong but necessary”.
This means not only are US citizens not allowed to jet off on holiday to mainland Europe, but travellers from the 26 countries in the Schengen border-free travel area are also now barred from heading to the US.
He said: “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe.
“The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.”
The travel restrictions do not currently apply to the UK and a number of other European countries including Ireland, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The UK government has ensured that it will continue to evaluate the developing situation and will make any amendments as necessary.
Britons are still able to travel at present, though some travel insurers are temporally amending their policies.
This means they may not provide coverage for coronavirus related issues.
Salman Haqqi, a personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has caused a flood of people trying to cancel trips. While many airlines are not charging cancellation fees on flights that have been grounded, some holidaymakers might find that they can’t get refunds — even if they paid for travel insurance.
“The British Insurers Brokers Association has advised that some policies may actually exclude any cover for pandemic situations.
“Many travel companies won’t refund holidaymakers who cancel trips because they are worried about contracting a virus. However, some policies do include cover for travel disruption and cancellations due to government restrictions. Check that your policy covers you for cancellations due to epidemic or pandemic restrictions.”
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